PHOENIX – The Founders Cup is LPGA commissioner Mike Whan’s creation, but he’ll tell you it’s a better event because he listened to players who didn’t like his original vision of this altruistic tournament.
Originally, Whan proposed that players compete for a “mock purse” of $1.3 million, a purse that was imaginary in every way. Under the original plan, there wasn’t real prize money but players were going to be credited with official money winnings. By doing this, Whan estimated the LPGA could raise $500,000 after event expenses and donate it to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf.
Paula Creamer came forward publicly against the original plan. Cristie Kerr and Morgan Pressel also went on the record with issues.
Creamer and other players wanted a real purse that would be completely donated to charity. They also wanted to be able to play for charities of their choices.
In the end, Whan made it happen, changing the plan so that a real $1 million was raised for the purse with all of it being donated to charity.
“When we first formed the idea, if you had told me we needed to get to a $1 million purse, I would have told you we can’t do it,” Whan said. “In our first economics, we thought we could run the event, put it on TV and have $500,000 left over. RR Donnelley said we’ll find another $250,000, and I said we’ll find another $250,000 as well. So, let’s go do a million dollars.”
Whan said local Phoenix sponsorships and major equipment manufacturers (Adams, Callaway, Nike, Ping, Taylor-Made and Titleist) also helped the tour to get to $1 million in real prize money.
Though there are some players who believe they could be playing for prize money this week and still donate meaningful money to charity, Whan’s changes appeased most player concerns.
“After listening to players, I said, `You know what? They’re right,’' Whan said. 'I don’t mind changing things when somebody has a better idea than me, and as a result I think the event’s better.”